About Us

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) supports thriving communities through an integrated and equitable approach to planning and community investment. OPCD works across City departments to assess community needs, prioritize resources, and develop a vision for how Seattle grows to ensure that we are coordinating and implementing our plans with a cohesive vision.

We are working toward a city that is inclusive, affordable, vibrant, interconnected and innovative. We partner with neighborhoods, businesses, agencies and others to bring about positive change and coordinate investments for Seattle communities.

Our Areas of Work

  • Citywide Initiatives: Leading the development of strategies, policies and actions on issues of citywide importance through tools such as Seattle's Comprehensive Plan and the city's land use code. We also represent the City in regional planning initiatives and works with partners to conduct research and analysis on current issues and trends and forecast potential future challenges and opportunities.
  • Community Planning: Working at the neighborhood, district or community scale to develop localized strategies for addressing community-defined priorities and issues of citywide concern. These efforts often take the form of community plans and may result in area-specific rezones and other types of implementing actions. This area of work also includes the City's Equitable Development Initiative, partnering with other city departments and community groups to invest in community-led efforts aimed at addressing issues of racial equity, social justice and cultural displacement.
  • Placemaking: Working with partners at the site or district scale to translate citywide and community priorities into great places. This work can take the form of neighborhood-scale urban design frameworks and/or design guidelines, or the study and/or implementation of specific transformative projects or initiatives. These projects often involve the coordination of City capital investments across multiple departments, sometimes in coordination or collaboration with other governmental agencies, nonprofits and/or private developers, to facilitate the creation of high quality, sustainable, livable places that are equitable, inclusive and well-loved.

Responsibilities

  • Comprehensive Planning: We revise long-range policies to set broad direction for how the city will grow, in collaboration with King County, the Puget Sound Regional Council, and the state of Washington. In 2016, the City adopted Seattle 2035, an update to Seattle's Comprehensive Plan that will guide how we can best support the 70,000 households and 115,000 jobs projected to come to Seattle in the next 20 years.
  • Research and Analysis: We provide data to inform policies and plans citywide and in neighborhoods. We are working to bring together a cohesive investment strategy for all of Seattle. We present census information and we monitor key indicators that tell us who we are and how we are changing as a city.
  • Equitable Development Initiative: Our EDI provides financial support for capacity building in community-based organizations representing historically underserved communities, communities of color, and communities at risk of displacement. We provide expertise and funding for predevelopment (site acquisition, feasibility studies, operations) and development (tenant improvements, building construction, renovation) in order to support wealth creation in these communities. 
  • Implementing Transit-Oriented Development: We create new partnerships to encourage equitable transit-oriented development around existing and future light rail stations. This work focuses on creating jobs and providing housing affordable to a range of incomes, maximizing transit ridership, and stimulating the economic health of local neighborhood areas.
  • Housing Policies: Planners are working with the community to develop programs that support income-restricted housing, expand options for market-rate housing in transit-rich areas of the city, and examine design considerations to ensure neighborhoods remain livable and vibrant as the city grows and changes.
  • Capital Cabinet: We staff and manage the Capital Cabinet, which is comprised of key staff from the Mayor's Office and department directors who have responsibility for major capital projects, and departments that support neighborhoods and businesses where these infrastructure investments are made. We work with members of the Cabinet to ensure that the City's capital investments support community development objectives, and that department priorities are aligned and reflected in policies and budget resources.
  • The Seattle Planning Commission: An independent body that advises the Mayor, City Council and City departments on broad planning goals, policies and plans for the physical development of the City.
  • The Seattle Design Commission: An independent body that promotes civic design excellence in capital improvement projects located on City land, in the City right-of-way, or constructed with City funds. The Commission advises the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on the design of capital improvements and policies that shape Seattle's public realm.

About Our Director

SamAssefaDirector-webSam Assefa is the Director of Seattle's Office of Planning & Community Development. Prior to his appointment in 2016, Sam served as the senior urban designer for the City of Boulder, Colorado. From 2002 to 2010, he was the Director of Land Use and Planning Policy at the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, and served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley. Between 1991 and 2002, Sam worked as the senior urban designer for San Francisco architecture firm SMWM, as well as the City of San Francisco Planning Department.

Sam has served on numerous boards, including the AIA Regional Urban Design Committee, and is a founding member of the Center for Art and Public Life at California College of the Arts, where he was an Adjunct Professor of Architecture. Sam serves as a Resource Team for the Mayors Institute on City Design (MICD), a team of distinguished professionals from across the country with expertise architecture, urban design, city planning, and related fields. He is a frequent speaker at national and international planning and design conferences.

Sam is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Master's in City Planning, and the University of Illinois, Chicago, with a B.A. in Architecture.